Tag Archives | Beliefs

The Six Types Of Nonbelievers: Which Are You?

atheists(If you happen to be a nonbeliever, that is.) Via CNN, researchers Christopher Silver and Thomas Coleman interviewed atheists and formed a Cosmo-quiz-style typology of six distinct groups:

  • Intellectual atheist/agnostic – This type of nonbeliever seeks information and intellectual stimulation about atheism. They like debating and arguing.
  • Activist – These kinds of atheists and agnostics are not content with just disbelieving in God; they want to tell others why they reject religion and why society would be better off if we all did likewise.
  • Seeker-agnostic – People who are unsure about the existence of a God but keep an open mind and recognize the limits of human knowledge and experience. That doesn’t mean this group is confused, the researchers say. They just embrace uncertainty.
  • Anti-theist – This group regularly speaks out against religion and religious beliefs, usually by positioning themselves as “diametrically opposed to religious ideology,” Silver and Coleman wrote.

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Belief In Science Increases In Stressful Situations

belief in scienceBelief doesn’t have to be superstitious or irrational to give us comfort. e! Science News reports:

A faith in the explanatory and revealing power of science increases in the face of stress or anxiety, a study by Oxford University psychologists suggests. The researchers argue that a ‘belief in science’ may help non-religious people deal with adversity by offering comfort and reassurance, as has been reported previously for religious belief.

‘It’s not just believing in God that is important for gaining these psychological benefits, it is belief in general,’ says Dr. Farias. ‘It may be that we as humans are just prone to have belief, and even atheists will hold non-supernatural beliefs that are reassuring and comforting.’

The researchers say their findings are consistent with the idea that belief in science increases when secular individuals are placed in threatening situations. They go on to suggest that a belief in science may help non-religious people deal with adverse conditions.

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Does The Internet Mean The End For Organized Religions?

Tweets from the Pope aren’t going to help—mainstream organized religion requires closed systems of information, and will inevitably be destroyed by the Internet, Valerie Tarico argues via Alternet:

The biggest threat organized religion has ever faced [is] the Internet. A traditional religion, one built on “right belief,” requires a closed information system. That is why the Catholic Church put an official seal of approval on some ancient texts and banned or burned others. It is why some Christians are forbidden to marry nonbelievers, and moms home-school their kids with carefully screened textbooks.

Religions have spent eons honing defenses that keep outside information away from insiders. The innermost ring wall is a set of certainties and associated emotions like anxiety and disgust and righteous indignation that block curiosity. The outer wall is a set of behaviors aimed at insulating believers from contradictory evidence and from heretics who are potential transmitters of dangerous ideas.

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Nonbelievers Who Aren’t Atheists?

Writes David Niose on Psychology Today:

If you don’t believe in any gods, you are an atheist, right? This definition seems pretty basic, not the kind of material that requires an advanced degree in theology to understand.

But apparently it isn’t accurate. In fact, as I circulate in the secular movement on a daily basis, I frequently meet nonbelievers who are unwilling to identify as atheists.

Of course, there are other words that might describe those who don’t believe in deities — agnostic, humanist, skeptic, etc. — and quite a few nonbelievers prefer one of those terms as their primary means of religious identification, but many reject outright the atheist identity even as a secondary or incidental label. “Don’t call me an atheist!” one such nonbeliever recently told me. “I refuse to identify according to what I reject. I don’t believe in astrology or unicorns, but I don’t label myself according to that — so why should I identify according to my rejection of god-belief?”…

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Nearly Half Of Americans Believe in Creationism

Writes Mike Riggs on Reason:

According to a new Gallup poll, a plurality of Americans—46 percent, to be exact—believe that God made human beings just as they are today sometime in the last 10,000 years. That number is up from 40 percent in 2011 (which was down from 46 percent in 2006).

The number of people who believe God guided the process of evolution over millions of years fell from 38 percent to 32 percent in the last year; during the same period, the number of people who believe God is a lie and humans came from damn dirty apes fell from 16 percent to 15 percent…

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Doubt and Denial in Pursuit of Reality

“Does God exist?” Of the near-limitless variety of questions that can be posed by human beings, few are as profound, as important (or to certain fanatical Nietzsche lovers, as inane and tiresome) as this one. Few other questions have such a powerful effect over daily life, politics, and human interactions as this one simple query, and any given individual’s reply to it speaks volumes about his or her worldview.

For billions of people on planet Earth, its answer is a resounding “Yes!” – a declaration of faith so central to their lives that even a moment’s hesitation or doubt can induce feelings of severe guilt and internal conflict.  For a large and growing multitude however, the answer to this question is instead a confident but qualified “No.” And yet, for many others still, the only sensible reply is “Maybe,” “I don’t know,” or even “It’s impossible to say.”

Although plenty of people simply don’t care one way or the other, rolling their eyes and far preferring not to talk about it or even think about it, that’s just dodging its repercussions.… Read the rest

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Serpent-Handling West Virginia Pastor Dies From Snake Bite

Snake Handling

Handling serpents at the Pentecostal Church of God in 1946.

Reports Arlette Saenz on ABC News:

A “serpent-handling” West Virginia pastor died after his rattlesnake bit him during a church ritual, just as the man had apparently watched a snake kill his father years before.

Pentecostal pastor Mark Wolford, 44, hosted an outdoor service at the Panther Wildlife Management Area in West Virginia Sunday, which he touted on his Facebook page prior to the event.

“I am looking for a great time this Sunday,” Wolford wrote May 22, according to the Washington Post. “It is going to be a homecoming like the old days. Good ‘ole raised in the holler or mountain ridge running, Holy Ghost-filled speaking-in-tongues sign believers.”

Robin Vanover, Wolford’s sister, told the Washington Post that 30 minutes into the outdoor service, Wolford passed around a poisonous timber rattlesnake, which eventually bit him…

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The Problem With Moderates

Plato And AristotleIn a world of ever-widening extremes – from weather patterns to wealth disparities to polarized politics – what does it mean to be a moderate? More specifically, how does this term apply to religion?

Viewed in the context of most everyday activities and situations and in line with Aristotle’s idea of the “Golden Mean” (which states that virtue lies at the midpoint between two vices; i.e. courage lies between cowardice and recklessness, etc.), it could be said that a moderate stance is generally better than an extremist one. For example, being a moderate drinker seems to strike a pretty good balance between being healthy and having fun, as opposed to the opposite extremes of being an ascetic teetotaler or a raging alcoholic. Likewise, being politically moderate, if nothing else, tends to generate far less strife during dinner conversations amid mixed company or at large family gatherings.

Then again, for some activities moderate is still too far from the bell curve – particularly in cases where conventional wisdom has taken up residence at one of the distant ends of the spectrum of possibilities.  For example, while being moderately racist may be an improvement over being a hate-filled white supremacist neo-Nazi skinhead, it still leaves a lot to be desired if hoping to join enlightened humanity in recognizing equal rights for all people based on our shared human condition.… Read the rest

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Analytical Thinking Erodes Belief in God

The ThinkerDebora MacKenzie writes on New Scientist:

Charles Darwin and Albert Einstein famously did not believe in a supernatural God, and neither do some scientists today. It now appears there may be a good reason for this: thinking analytically dims supernatural beliefs, apparently by opposing the intuitive thought processes that underpin them.

The vast majority of people believe in a supernatural god or gods, says social psychologist Ara Norenzayan of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. Yet there are hundreds of thousands of atheists and agnostics who do not. While scientists have begun to study the psychology of belief, we know little about what causes disbelief.

Humans use two separate cognitive systems for processing information: one that is fast, emotional and intuitive, and another that is slower and more analytical.

The first system innately imputes purpose, personality or mental states to objects, leading to supernatural beliefs. People who rely more on intuitive thinking are more likely to be believers, while the more analytical are less likely.

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What Kind Of Believer Are You? Take The Dawkins Test

As Mark Cheney writes on Big Think, the criteria:

Richard Dawkins’ Belief Scale Scoring Rubric

1. Strong Theist: I do not question the existence of God, I KNOW he exists.
2. De-facto Theist: I cannot know for certain but I strongly believe in God and I live my life on the assumption that he is there.
3. Weak Theist: I am very uncertain, but I am inclined to believe in God.
4. Pure Agnostic: God’s existence and non-existence are exactly equiprobable.
5. Weak Atheist: I do not know whether God exists but I’m inclined to be skeptical.
6. De-facto Atheist: I cannot know for certain but I think God is very improbable and I live my life under the assumption that he is not there.
7. Strong Atheist:
I am 100% sure that there is no God.

Do you believe in God? Sometimes this question warrants more than just a yes or no answer. To categorize one’s own beliefs about the possibility of the existence of a deity, Dawkins proposed a “spectrum of probabilities” in his book The God Delusion.

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